Used Powerchair Buying Tips
Buyer Beware: Ask These Questions Before You Buy a Used Electric Wheelchair!
- Are both wheelchair batteries in good condition? Every chair has two large batteries - designed for use in electric wheelchairs - that each weigh 25 to 54 pounds. If one or both batteries are dead, you cannot test the chair before you buy it - to be sure that it works. Used batteries should be load-tested to confirm that they can hold a full charge. Two new batteries cost $160-$360 if you install them yourself - or twice as much if you ask a local Pride or Invacare dealer to buy and install them for you.
- Is there a satisfaction or repair guarantee? Ask for a guarantee that covers seat fit, unexpected noises, batteries that won't hold a charge, delivery damage, or "chair not as advertised." If the seller doesn't include a repair or refund guarantee, ask why.
- Can you pay with a credit card? Using a credit card helps you to get "justice" if your used power wheelchair is never delivered, arrives with dead batteries, is "not as advertised," or just doesn't work. Paying by cash, check, or money order provides no protection.
- What is the physical/cosmetic condition of the chair? Before you travel to see a powerchair, ask for photos that show the upholstery, fenders, seat belt, headrest, footrest and leg lifts. Replacement parts and qualified repair technicians are expensive.
- Are special features included? Some "rehab" chairs are advertised with as many as four special features: power tilt, power reclining seat, power leg-lifts, and power elevating seat. Insist on photos that show each of these functions. Some sellers are confused by generic users' manuals that describe all four special features, even though their specific powerchair includes just one or two.
- Will the width and depth of the used wheelchair's seat fit your unique body? Multiple seat sizes are available for each wheelchair model, and one seat size does NOT fit all. If the seller cannot offer you a seat that fits you, it will cost you several hundred dollars to replace and install it - if you can find another seat that does fit you.
- Does the wheelchair match your weight? Most electric wheelchairs have a weight capacity of 250-300 pounds. If you buy one of these but you weigh more, you may not fit the seat, batteries will have a shorter range, and you may damage the motors and the suspension. "Bariatric" chairs carry 300+ pounds but may require larger door openings in your home. Buy a chair that matches your weight.
- Can the seller modify the powerchair to suit your needs? You may need your joystick controller moved from the left side to the right side, or a different seat-to-floor height, or the addition of elevating leg rests.
- Who will deliver your wheelchair? Power wheelchairs weigh 200-350 pounds. Lifting one safely into and out of a van or pickup truck is a difficult task. And dropping a powerchair from a height of just a few inches can result in personal injury - plus powerchair damage that costs hundreds of dollars to repair.
- Will your electric wheelchair be insured during shipping? We've seen wheelchairs damaged beyond repair by even the best-known freight shipping companies. Insist that a professional packs your electric wheelchair, and that the packer directly insures 100% of your purchase cost. Shipping companies typically pay a maximum of 10 cents/pound for damage - just $25 for a 250-pound used wheelchair.
- Will your used wheelchair arrive in one piece, ready to ride? If it comes in more than one piece, you'll need tools, plus someone with good mechanical and electrical skills, to help you assemble it.
- Will the seller provide a receipt or signed bill of sale with seller's name, address, and phone? If not, ask why. You may need it later to ask questions, request missing parts, or to prove that you own the chair.
- Will the seller include a user's manual for the specific model you buy? If not, you may never learn how to use all of its features, or how to identify and fix problems that may occur.
- When was the wheelchair's last service date? Ask what was checked, by whom, and when.
- Is the seller reputable? Ask for references, and check them.
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